DNA Confirms Biden Link to Galway
Ireland loves to claim her own, so President Biden — who’s conspicuously proud of his 5/8 Irish ancestry — is a source of pride for many in the land of his ancestors. I first explored his heritage before he became Vice President, and later shared some of my findings in Irish America when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013. My research on his mother’s side of the family led to the Cooley Peninsula in County Louth and Ballina in County Mayo, where I was fortunate enough to find his Blewitt cousins. But what about that remaining 1/8 that stemmed from his father’s side?
The name in question was Hanafy and it was the 1870 census for his great-grandmother, Mary A. Hanafy, that revealed that her parents had been born in Ireland. I tried to push back further, but as most genealogists know, crossing the pond to Ireland — especially for Famine era and earlier — is an iffy proposition, so this branch of the family tree remained stalled.
Over the years, I’ve heard from a number of people regarding Joe Biden, and when he emerged as the front runner in the presidential election, these inquiries surged. Some have a surname and location in common so are hoping for proof of a connection, while others claim to be his cousin. Many turn out to be wishful thinking, but you never know, so I was intrigued when I received an email declaring a relationship to the Hanafy line. Having just lost my father, I had other priorities, but a few months later was ready to take a closer look.
Wanted: My Missing Family
As often happens, what had been sent supported the notion of a relationship, but fell shy of proving it. Still, there was a promising source citation for a much beloved resource in the genealogical community: Irish Relatives and Friends From “Information Wanted” Ads in the Irish-American, 1850–1871.
Back in the 1800s, it was depressingly easy for immigrants to lose track of one another. No phones or internet, and many weren’t literate…